Framework 4 Relief Pictograms

By Bruno Giesteira, João Mesquita, Marta Fernandes and António Silva.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social and Community Studies

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The ISOTYPE (International System of Typographic Picture Education) pictograms, a system that emerged as a response to a society driven by science and industrialization, as well as imbued with the belief that the modern spirit had what it takes to pursue the universal theories: The will to do a “utopia” universal communication. Otto Neurath (1882–1945), developed the isotype in the early 20s of twentieth century, with the help of Gerd Arntz (1900–1988) and Marie Neurath (1898–1986). The frame used simplified forms to transmit social and economic information to the general public and applied in museums, books, posters, and educational material. Neurath hoped to create a global standard for education and unite humanity through an ordered, and universally readable language of vision. Their core principles: reduction, to determine the individual style signs; consistency, to give the whole an appearance of a coherent system. The reduction suggests that the “image has a natural, scientific relationship to its object” (Lupton 1989, 54), and formal consistency is linked to mass production, enabling the user to create a habit of how the information is presented. However, isotype did not advance “because of the difficulties related to the sheer size and complexity of the iconic representation” (Rajamanickam, 2005, 7) and tend to ignore the socio-economic and cultural contexts. The creation of language should rely on the context. And considering the context, currently, many of the 17 million Europeans who suffer from food allergies could benefit from a more direct information system in the identification of the fourteen allergens regulated by the Parliament and Council Regulation (EU) nº 1169/2011 in food products’ packages. This study is aimed at creating pictograms representing these fourteen allergens along visual and tactile lines, through relief printing. Based on an Inclusive Design approach, the project is meant to overcome restrictions such as sight impairment or illiteracy. Making use of User Centered Design (UCD) methodology, and with the support of the SAED (Disabled Students Support Services of the University of Porto) and GAENEE-UP (Support Office for Students with Special Educational Needs of the University of Porto), it employed field observation processes, in which potential users recorded their tactile perception of the basic elements of visual communication. The result is the creation of a universal code, which is meant to satisfy the expectations and needs of potential users, namely people with impaired sight with a framework that systematize guidelines to support the development of new relief pictograms in the food allergies context. This project was developed with the purpose of creating a unique and universal code that could help two special groups of disabled people: Those,,both adults and children, that suffer from food allergies and the visually impaired. The leading goal was the creation of relief signs that represent the fourteen allergens regulated by the European Union, under the Parliament and Council (EU) Regulation nº 1169/2011, as well as the development of a guideline framework to support future relief pictograms’ designs. In this paper we explain the process of creating those, presenting some of the results, semiotic and technical requirements that underlie the framework that systematize the relief pictograms guidelines to visual impaired users.

Keywords: Relief Pictograms, Accessibility, Guidelines, Food, Allergens

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social and Community Studies, Volume 12, Issue 2, June 2017, pp.1-11. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.301MB).

Prof. Bruno Giesteira

Professor, Design Department, University of Porto, Maia, Portugal

João Mesquita

Designer and Researcher, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal

Marta Fernandes

Teacher, Design, Graphic Design Course, Oporto Polytechnic institute, Porto, Porto, Portugal

António Silva

Accessibility Technician Specialist, University of Porto Faculty of Art, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal